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Featured Review: OnePlus iPhone 6/6s Case

February 8, 2016 - Written By Nick Sutrich

The technology industry is an interesting roller coaster ride to say the least, one in which surprises even the most seasoned veterans at times.  Famed, and maybe even infamous, Android smartphone manufacturer OnePlus announced that they would be making an iPhone 6/6s case at the end of December, an announcement that stunned a number of people in the industry.  Given OnePlus rather interesting marketing tactics over the past 2 years since the company’s founding, it’s really no surprise to see them doing things that people wouldn’t expect, and namely things that keep their name going in the news headlines.  OnePlus certainly knows how to make a name for itself, so should you be carrying this name on your iPhone if you so choose to own one?  Let’s take a look.

Design and Fit

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If you’ve ever used a hard plastic shell case for your phone you’ll know what to expect here.  The OnePlus case is a fairly simple plastic shell that wraps around the back and sides of the phone, leaving the top and bottom of the device completely uncovered.  Cutouts are made for the buttons on either side, and there’s a slight lip at the top to keep the screen from smacking flat on the ground if the phone is dropped.  This is fairly minimal coverage and is probably as little as you can get away with while still claiming the title of case.  On the bright side this lip isn’t high enough to intrude upon normal usage of swiping in from the sides, something that can get annoying with a big bulky case.  Having cutouts for all the buttons means they’re more exposed to the elements and to damage, however it keeps the experience pure and makes it feel like you’re using the phone more without a case than with one.

Installation of the case is as easy as snapping it onto the back, as the plastic the case is made of is slightly flexible and easily goes on, but still remains taut enough to stay on the phone.  What’s special about the case is not the plastic used to make it, rather the texture on the back.  You likely have heard of it if you’re familiar with OnePlus at all, it’s called Sandstone Black, and it’s a gritty, sandpaper-like material that adds grip and feels phenomenal.  It’s a far cry from the slippery powder-like finish Apple puts on the iPhone’s metal exterior, and it’s something that flat out rocks.  Some iPhone cases have a cutout for the Apple logo, something that’s overly gaudy and is clearly done to show a status symbol, however the OnePlus logo is clearly shown in place of Apple’s logo, which might be something a little strange to Apple users since it’s traditionally an Android brand.

Use and Durability

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As the case doesn’t protect the top and bottom sections of the phone, it allows for easy access to the 3.5mm headset jack and lightning connector, as well as keeping the bottom speaker grille free from obstruction.  It also means that you’re likely to scratch the tops and bottoms on various things, especially if you’re a user that likes to place their phone on the table or somesuch location where it could come into contact with other objects.  This is certainly not a desirable trait in a case but given that it’s designed to offer minimal protection and be super light and unobtrusive, it sort of makes sense to be designed this way.  Still I would have liked to see protection for at least the top section since it’s got absolutely nothing up there but a shiny metal trim that’s asking to get scuffed.

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The back material is gritty and grippy, although it’s not nearly as coarse as the Sandstone material found on the OnePlus One or 2.  While this means it’s not 100% as grippy as those phones, it’s far more grippy than you would find without a case on the iPhone, and certainly more so than those flat plastic or TPU cases floating around out there.  In addition to this the difference in material might mean that it lasts longer than the gritty material used on the OnePlus One at least, as that phone tended to have its back smooth out over time due to the friction of putting it in a pocket constantly.  This means after a few months the OnePlus One would end up feeling a bit gummy on the back instead of gritty, leaving a rather unpleasant feeling in the hand.

Thus far in the usage I’ve not seen such an effect happen, and it was clearly a noticeable degradation in quality after just a few weeks on the original OnePlus One, although the 2 seems to have lasted a bit longer.  This isn’t surprising given the general improvements that are made to any manufacturing process over time, and OnePlus’s design language has clearly improved over time too.  I imagine the grip would only last a few months given the fact that it’s still a material sprayed over a plastic case to create a texture, however it’s clear the process has improved enough to give it some additional longevity.

Conclusion

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For $20 you’re looking at a pretty average shape case that provides minimal protection, but also weighs next to nothing and adds very little bulk to the phone.  The case did come with a OnePlus X invite originally, but since the X is now available forever without an invite such a thing wouldn’t make sense to continue to include to entice iPhone buyers into the Android ecosystem, unless of course OnePlus is just using it as a marketing device. There’s little else inside this package to offer any additional value, so if you’re looking for a minimal case like this to keep the screen from cracking this isn’t too bad of an option, but at $20 it certainly feels a little more expensive than I’d like to see from such a minimal case.

The bright side of a minimal case like this is it makes the phone feel more “natural” instead of completely covered up in some giant obtrusive thing, however, it means less protection overall if you do experience a drop of the phone.  Personally, I’d prefer a case like this as I don’t like cases covering up my phone no matter what I’m carrying, and the added protection where it exists is certainly not a bad option.  This one is only available for the smaller version of the 6/6s, so no Plus size, which is sort of ironic given that OnePlus makes it.  Check out the OnePlus site to get your own if you’re interested!